Types of Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Organizations Face

Nov 22, 2022
Team Brinqa
glasses looking at computer to evaluate risk

Vulnerabilities are everywhere in the cyber systems on which enterprises rely for, well, everything.

The need for an effective vulnerability risk service has never been higher. The number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities grows along with the number of cyber systems and users, significantly increasing the attack surfaces of corporate network infrastructures.

Organizations need a vulnerability risk service that connects, models and analyzes all relevant security, context and threat data to deliver knowledge-driven insights for vulnerability prioritization, remediation and reporting. Here’s why.

A vulnerability is “a weakness in the computational logic found in software and hardware components that when exploited, results in a negative effect to confidentiality, integrity, or availability,” according to the National Vulnerability Database (NVD).

NVD and Microsoft security updates are two free sources for vulnerability definitions. For more definitions, you can also pay for subscriptions to vulnerability databases available from cybersecurity vendors. 

There are two types of vulnerabilities: known and unknown. Let’s take a look at each one.

Known vulnerabilities

If you know about a vulnerability’s existence, you can defend it — at least theoretically. The following are known vulnerabilities present in many corporate infrastructures. 

Familiarity

When an attacker is familiar with the code, software, operating systems and hardware of an organization, the chances are high that the attacker will find a vulnerability. 

Complexity

The more complex a system is, the higher the probability a flaw or misconfiguration will result in unintended access.

Connectivity

‍The more connections a device has, the greater the chance a vulnerability exists among them.

Poor password management

Computers do the grunt work necessary for a brute-force attack, hurling password combinations at the speed of digits, hoping to uncover weakness. When users reuse passwords, a single breach can become many breaches, as the attacker tries the same password on different systems and platforms.

Software flaws

When an operating system is not secured, an attacker can access it to inject viruses and malware. ‍Sometimes programmers unintentionally leave exploitable bugs in software. Users leave their systems vulnerable by not updating or patching their software.

Antivirus vulnerabilities

The irony of antimalware solutions is situational – instead of protecting users from malware,  antimalware solutions expose users to vulnerability exploitation. Antimalware grants extensive permissions an attacker can abuse to access a system.

Users

‍People who use computers are easily the most significant and weakest link in the entire security chain. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report

  • 80% of data breaches are from poor or reused passwords. 
  • 82% of breaches involved credentials.
  • 82% of breaches involved a human element.
  • 7% of breaches involved vulnerability exploitation.

If not for users, phishing wouldn’t exist. Nor would social engineering. The former is an email message sent in the hope the recipient will click on an included link set to deliver a malware payload. The latter is a lie or deception used to enter a network for a cyberattack. 

Physical cybersecurity threats

When planning the protection of a network, it’s easy to forget about the physical security of IT assets, such as your buildings and infrastructure. Also, consider users’ security and privacy in cyber-physical systems. They can be bribed or intimidated into relinquishing valuable information.  

Denial of service (DoS)

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is a malicious attempt to prevent legitimate traffic from accessing a website by overwhelming the web server with meaningless requests. 

Application security testing (AST)

Application security testing (AST) is the process of identifying security weaknesses and vulnerabilities in source code to harden applications by making them more resistant to security threats.

According to Gartner research, “84% of breaches exploit vulnerabilities in the application layer, yet the ratio of spending between perimeter security and application security is 23-to-1.” If you’re aware of an application vulnerability, you can test for it. 

Dynamic application security testing (DAST) 

Dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools execute code and then inspect it at runtime to detect issues that might be security vulnerabilities. Issues may be with query strings, requests, responses, scripts, memory leaks, cookie handling, session handling, authentication, executing third-party components, and code and data injection.

Static application security testing (SAST)

Static application security testing (SAST) scans application source, binary, and byte code to identify vulnerability causes and assist with remediation. SAST tools attack applications from inside to perform a scan, inspecting static source code and reporting weaknesses.

Interactive application security testing (IAST)

Interactive application security testing (IAST) analyzes code for security vulnerabilities while the application is running. That can be an automated test, a human tester, or anything “interacting” with application functionality. Because it reports vulnerabilities in real time, IAST doesn’t add more time to your improvement and deliverability.

Web application security testing

Web application security testing involves assessing a web application for security flaws and vulnerabilities that require fixing before hackers take advantage of them. Meticulously testing for hidden vulnerable points in your application lessens the risk an attacker will find and exploit one of them.

The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report mentioned above found that 56% of breaches involved basic web application attacks.

Software composition analysis (SCA)

Software composition analysis (SCA) identifies specific open-source versions, software components, and licensing risks. It helps to ensure all embedded open-source code meets selected standards. 

Advanced SCA tools have automated component detection and identification, as well as vulnerability, license association, and risk remediation.

Unknown vulnerabilities

When a home full of intelligent devices suffers more than 12,000 hacking or unknown scanning attacks from around the world in one week, can you imagine how many more risks to a network there are? Since your network is more extensive — and more valuable — than the technology of the average home, it presents a more significant target.  

Zero-day

A software flaw hackers have discovered while the developer remains unaware of it is known as a zero-day vulnerability. It’s called “zero-day” because it had never been seen before and the software vendor had “zero” time to patch it before criminals exploited it. 

Trust relationship

Trust configurations propagated across your network simplify user access between systems. Adverse possession of those trusted credentials opens the systems to attackers. After gaining access to a system, the adversary can breach all other systems that trust the system that was initially compromised.

Compromised credentials 

To get unauthorized access to a system in your network, attackers try to intercept and extract passwords from unencrypted or incorrectly encrypted communication, either from unsecured handling by software or users. Attackers also try to exploit passwords by reusing them across systems.

Malicious insider

Potentially the most dangerous security bad actors and the one motivated to do serious damage is the stealthy insider: a disgruntled team member with access to your critical systems. They may choose to exploit their access privileges to steal or destroy your data. 

How do you find unknown vulnerabilities

Penetration testing

Penetration testing, or pen testing, is an exercise in which a cybersecurity professional probes a network to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Simulated attacks are how a pen tester identifies weak spots in system defenses that defenders can fix to tighten security. Pen testing is an intricate, specialized practice area that is critical to business security. 

Breach and attack simulation (BAS)

To perform comprehensive assessments of your cybersecurity defenses, you need automated breach simulation and attack simulation, continuous assets scanning, and protection.

Breach and attack simulation (BAS) spots gaps in your security and helps you understand how well-defended you are against real threats to your systems.

A BAS platform mimics the actual actions of a threat by simulated attacks against your data center, allowing you to assess your security controls and take action designed to catch a real threat actor when the need arises. 

Often offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS), BAS goes beyond traditional testing methods such as penetration testing and vulnerability scans by simplifying how you conduct checks on your security controls. Modern BAS tools permit automated testing including customized, automated, simulated attacks.

Unlike traditional penetration tests in which humans perform hacking attempts, cloud-based BAS apps host modules that run automated tests. The malware used doesn’t harm your network infrastructure and works only for the simulation.

Brinqa performs vulnerability risk management

Using connectors to pull data from all sources on your entire network, Brinqa calculates rules, performs advanced operational risk analysis, and applies specific business contexts to pinpoint those vulnerabilities you must fix first. It automatically creates tickets and tasks for remediation. 

The capability for extensive visibility into all of your existing assets, information and infrastructure is practically infinite, meaning you can add more data and grow your network without worry. 

Get your free trial to experience how easily Brinqa delivers efficient, repeatable and trustworthy results by automating your vulnerability risk management.

FAQ 

How do a vulnerability, a threat and a risk differ?

Sometimes confused with vulnerability, a threat is anything capable of exploiting a vulnerability, whereas a risk is when a threat exploits a vulnerability. You worry about a threat occurring to an asset. You calculate the potential damage from a risk.

What is a threat agent in information security?

The National Institute for Standards and Technology defines a threat agent synonymously with a threat source as, “The intent and method targeted at the intentional exploitation of a vulnerability or a situation and method that may accidentally trigger a vulnerability.”

What are the reasons why information systems are vulnerable?

Being interconnected and accessible from many points in the connection makes information systems vulnerable. 

What are cyber-physical systems?

The Cyber-Physical Systems Research Center tells us cyber-­physical systems (CPS) happen when digital and analog devices, interfaces, sensors, networks, actuators and computers are combined with the natural environment and with human-made objects and structures. A CPS depends upon integrating computational algorithms and physical components. 

What is cyber-physical security?

Cyber-physical security concerns securing physical systems used to maintain and implement cybersecurity solutions. It includes the technology necessary for operations, industrial control systems, and the Internet of Things. The proliferation of devices has led to physical and cybersecurity convergence.

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